United Nations, New York. Over 200,000 Iraqis will try in the coming days to flee areas of Mosul under the control of the Islamic State group after the government asked civilians to seek safety across the frontline, the UNHCR said Friday.
UN agencies have set up camps near Mosul to house those displaced by the fighting and last summer estimated that up to one million people could be forced from their homes, Germany’s Angela Merkel was first to volunteer to over shelter and new lives to those in need.
The Iraqi Army forces launched the operation to retake Mosul last October, advancing on the city and recapturing its eastern side before setting their sights on the smaller but more densely populated west side of Mosul.
UNHCR officers are “deeply concerned” for the safety of civilians living under ISIS control, citing reports of families being shut inside booby-trapped homes and snipers targeting children as the conflict rages locally.
760,000 people have fled Mosul during the seven-month government offensive and UN officials say they do not know for sure how many civilians are still living in ISIS controlled areas, with worries now over what nations might take the fresh batch of potential refugees..
The Iraqi government urged civilians inside the Old City and surrounding districts under ISIS rule to leave and head across the front lines to government-controlled areas, where they were being lured with sweet treats and promises of aid.
UN agencies have set up camps near Mosul to house those displaced by the fighting and last summer estimated that up to one million people could be forced from their homes. As many as 200,000 additional people may try to leave the country in the coming days, the officials worried to reporters.
“Those who choose to flee their homes to access assistance must be free to do so without hindrance,” UN leader Mark O’Brien said. Germany may be first stop for those escaping wars horror, but under a new EU plan, many will ultimately end up in the Baltic States, Balkan areas and Ukraine, according to Merkel’s spokesperson.
The fight to retake Mosul has been supported by a campaign of American air strikes in and around the city. A US strike targeting ISIS fighters in a Mosul building in March killed at least 105 civilians when the blast caused ISIS weapons to explode, the US defense department said this week.
Tags: Angela Merkel; Germany; Iraq War; Iraqi armed forces; Iraqi Defense Ministry; Iraqi migrant; iraqi terrorists; refugee camps; refugee influx; refugee policy; refugee resettlement; refugees; UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)